Category Archives: Academic

Image Repair Study for Newt Gingrich

I’m currently working on an image repair campaign for presidential candidate Newt Gingrich to fulfill my course requirement for my Public Relations Media Programming class. With the presidential election coming up in November, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to focus on a presidential candidate.

Choosing my subject at the beginning of the semester, I was unsure of where the race would stand by April when a majority of my paper would be written. Now that approximately half of the primaries have been held, Gingrich is in third place for Republicans, ahead of Ron Paul but behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. At this time, it is unlikely that he’ll gain a majority of his party’s nomination, but it won’t hurt to protect his image so he can work to become a highly compensated conservative political analyst if he doesn’t move onto presidency.

I chose Gingrich as a subject not necessarily because I plan to vote for him, but because I thought he could have potential with implemented image repair tactics. Three I noticed in particular are his family life, his role as a lecturer versus a leader, and his Contract with America campaign.

Politics aside, many people are concerned with Gingrich’s familial relations and marriages. Gingrich is on his third marriage, two ending in divorce due to infidelity. Gingrich married his first wife, Jackie Battley, at age 19. They had two daughters, Jackie and Kathy, before their split in 1980. He remarried the following year to Marianne Ginther. They divorced in 1999 when he was simultaneously leading charges against the Clinton Affair, only admitted in 2007. Currently, Gingrich seems happily married to Callista Bisek Gingrich who is among his top political supporters. While you can argue that his personal life should stay private, Americans are not looking to be represented by a person who has a history of infidelity, not just once but twice. To counter his marriages, I suggest that he emphasizes a healthy relationship with his current wife Callista, and genuinely showing the importance of family with his two daughters and two grandchildren (Jackie’s children – Maggie and Robert).

Speeches are obviously a major focus point because an effective leader must be a strong communicator. Since Gingrich is a teacher by profession, he naturally he has a lecturing tendency. He taught history and environmental studies at West Georgia College for eight years before pursuing politics. The best way to avoid this is to focus on using ‘we’ instead of ‘you.’ Gingrich should also avoid verbal attacks on Obama when possible. At times, it is necessary to bring up an opponent and their approach so you can offer your suggestion, but it often can be taken wrong. Gingrich has been known to do this during speeches and with tweets. Instead, Gingrich should focus on his strengths so he can be best remembered as confident and respectful, even towards his political rivals.

The Contract for America originally came out in 1994 and was written by Larry Hunter with help from politicians like Gingrich, inspired by Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union addressed delivered in 1985. Republican were glad to regain majority in the US House of Representatives after 40 years. This contract was an attempt to gain support and ensure the House stayed in their favor. In his campaign, Gingrich has revamped the contract, especially stressing his drill in America campaign. Social Security for the future is another hot topic that the public wants to know each candidates ideas for.

My study will especially focus on how the mainstream media perceives him. It’s common knowledge that people will focus on your shortcomings before they credit you with your strengths. At the moment, Gingrich is in third place. Although Texas and California Primaries are still to come in addition to nearly 15 other states, I’d like to build up Gingrich’s image so he can remain active in politics whether he moves forward as a presidential candidate or not.

Stay tuned, a lot can between now and the completion of my 15 page paper due next month!

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Journalism Guest Speakers

Mr. Jay Hicks came to speak to my Public Relations Media Programming class about the importance of interactive marketing, especially as upperclassmen wanting to distinguish ourselves as we enter the workforce.

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Mr. Hicks is the Director of New Media at News 10 KWTX, a CBS affiliate located in Waco. He oversees the KWTX’s efforts in online and new media content for the company website and mobile site.

His seven main suggestions are to:

  • Create an interactive resume, consider using a QR code; a video resume is another option
  • Create a “me blog” that acts as an online portfolio like Mr. Hick’s
  • Have a “passion blog,” separate from your personal blog. Mr. Hick has a track and field website called Prerace Jitters.
  • Create a Twitter list and RSS feed of the major players in your field
  • Conduct informal interviews with professionals in your field, network of key industry players, have mentors
  • Know your a game plan

Lucky for me, I have an additional year to market myself to employers, using advice from professors and professionals like Mr. Hicks. I am glad to say that I have a quality resume, I’m continuing to build up my portfolio and personal blog, and I’m strengthening my social media use through my personal accounts and for Baylor Baseball Diamond Girls. I’m also networking and in contact with professionals in the field of public relations who can provide valuable advice for me. I’ll have an interactive resume before the end of this month, and I would love to generate a QR code for my resume that links to this blog or my online portfolio. I enjoy having a blog to publicly share what’s on my mind. I would eventually love to start another blog about my interests, including sports, fashion or food. Tweeting for Diamond Girls is a small step in that direction in the mean time. I use my personal Twitter account to keep up with friends and interests, but I would like to find public relations experts to follow. As for the game plan, I think it will continue to fall into place after a summer internship and as my senior year progresses.

It’s all becoming real to me how close I am to the real world. As much as I hate to think about leaving Baylor behind, I know I’ll be ready for a new experience with different responsibilities.

 

That same class, Mr. Carvin Eison invited us to a screening of his newest documentary:

That night, I also attended the public screening of Shadows of the Lynching Tree. The award-winning documentary was researched and produced by Mr. Carvin Eison. The documentary lasted approximately an hour and focused on the idea of lynching and racial tensions. Two of the lynchings were of two young Waco boys in the early 1900s, and both were largely publicized throughout the town.

The Waco public screening, held on the Baylor campus, was largely attended by Wacoans, Lead LLC, multi-cultural student associations and students. It was a difficult film to sit through because the idea of hanging seems hard to fathom in today’s society. In reality, Mr. Eison produced the documentary to combat issues and idea of lynchings. Mr. Eison says lynchings still happen today, just unpublicized. Mr. Eison hopes his documentary will help people understand lynchings and why they should be discontinued altogether.

 

Tonight, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) hosted guest speaker Mrs. Teddy Orr in a monthly joint meeting.

Mrs. Orr was the most inspirational speaker I’ve heard this month. She has been in entertainment journalism as an interviewer, or as she prefers, conversationalist, with celebrities. She graduated from Baylor before moving to Washington D.C., Nashville, North Carolina and now lives outside of San Antonio. She had such fascinating stories and advice to share. I loved her stories involving country music singers and her strong faith most.

She has interviewed celebrities including Harry Connick Jr., Garth Brooks, Dennis Quaid, Liza Minnelli, Steve Martin, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Christopher Reeve, Reba McEntire, Phyllis George, Tony Bennett and Jay Theismann to name some.

Mrs. Orr’s top advice is as follows:

  • Know your strengths and stick with them
  • Think of all interviews as conversations to they are more personable and genuine.
  • Be overly prepared, including finding a common ground with them or knowing what they like or what is unique about them
  • Put your subject at ease, making them the most comfortable so it’s easier to talk to them
  • Ask short and direct questions that are easy to comprehend and answer
  • Be likable and respected by your peers
  • Think of the camera as a person, and you’ll come across far more relaxed and comfortable. Think of the celebrity as another person, which they are and wish to be treated like.

Mrs. Orr remembers and still follows advice of Phyllis George, the first female sports anchor and former Ms. America. 1) Strike while the iron is hot, 2)Always look your best and do your best because you never know what may come next (be prepared).

The most important qualities she mentioned having are flexibility, balance, ambition, professionalism, cleverness, ability to improvise and thick skin in a competitive field.

I loved that Mrs. Orr brought her Christian faith into her presentation and how she is able to incorporate it into her interviews. This includes usually mentioning faith or Jesus in interviews and praying over subject prior to the interview. Her employers and co-workers are aware that her faith is of utmost importance. Her latest project is writing a book about witnessing, entitled Can I Get a Witness?

She talked about old-school journalism, remaining neutral and selfless, no matter who or what you’re talking about. Matt Lauer, Dianne Sawyer, Bill O’Reilly and Barbara Walters are among the best in her opinion.

While I’m not interested in entering television journalism, interviewing skills are pivotal to understand in any field of journalism and interacting with people in general. It’s refreshing to hear such great advice from a journalist who enjoys their career and gives glory to God for their wonderful opportunities. Her ambition, passion, liveliness and stories made her so fascinating.

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ABWK Campaign Update

After a few group meetings and a thorough discussion of our campaign with Waco Habitat for Humanity, our project is heading it the right direction. We are scheduled for completion in just two weeks from tomorrow on our campaign for A Brush with Kindness. My group members and I have plenty to accomplish, but we are completely capable!

We have completed background information and research. Our latest project was a Twitter directory – a list of organizations or businesses, their Twitter ID and the numbers of followers and following. A large portion of these names are campus organizations, including sororities and media outlets. We hope to extend to fraternities, honor societies and service organizations as well. Baylor also has the first collegiate chapter of Habitat for Humanity that should be included. Other names listed in the directory are involved and supportive of local non-profits. My idea is to team up with a radio station like Mix 92.9. I worked with Mix 92.9 and its sister stations as a public relations intern. They have a strong, middle-aged following that seem like ideal candidates to volunteer time or donate money to the program.


My major task for the overall campaign is to create a public service announcement. I have only written one PSA in the past for the Turkey Trot, an event that Mix 92.9 was helping to sponsor. My plan for this PSA is to introduce ABWK and its launch set for later this year. I plan to write a script, make a video slideshow and record a voiceover. I can publish it on YouTube, but it is intended for the website and social media outlets to introduce the Waco Habitat’s newest program. If we are able to partner with a radio or news station, like Mix 92.9, then the PSA can be aired.

Our group is doing our best to divide the workload evenly since we have such a short time frame. At this point, we are working quickly to produce sufficient documents before we focus on editing and compiling for our final product and presentation. I also plan to contribute to designing a flyer, social media and a mockup additional tab for their website.

Time is ticking on our deadline set for March 1. We’ll keep you updated!

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A New Project – Working with Waco Habitat for Humanity

I’m glad to say that Waco Habitat for Humanity has agreed to work with my group members and me for our Public Relations Programming course project this semester. Our project will be entered into the 2012 National Zenith Awards, due in March. I am working with Emilly, Gloria, Lauren and Leah. It was Gloria’s idea to work with Waco Habitat since she is taking a class with Mr. John Alexander, the executive director there. We met last week with Mr. Alexander and Mr. Tim Moon, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, to discuss major goals and objectives for our project.

The focus of our project is to promote Waco Habitat’s newest program, A Brush with Kindness (ABWK). ABWK is an exterior preservation service, primarily painting and landscaping, for qualifying homes and families. It will be implemented later on this year after legal issues are worked out, mostly due to lead-based paints. ABWK already exists in larger cities, including Greater LA and Birmingham, Ala.

Since this program is new to our area, Waco Habitat is in the beginning stages of promoting. We will be working from the start to create awareness of Habitat’s newest service. Luckily, Waco Habitat has an established website, in addition to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube accounts. They stay current with hundreds of followers, and they upload post almost daily. Mr. Alexander mentioned that the most valuable items we can produce are flyers or brochures and create a link and mockup for the program’s own page on their existing website.

I applaud Waco Habitat for Humanity’s effort to stay current with social media, especially with a small staff of less who stay busy running the office and building or revitalizing homes. It will be beneficial to them and our group that their fan base stays well connected through these outlets. We will be able to reach this group with information about ABWK easily. I would like to improve their public relations efforts with tangible information, presented in flyers or mailouts to the less tech-friendly generation who are likely to volunteer or donate to these efforts. Churches and community organizations are ideal groups to appeal to.

I am looking forward to working with the hospitable staff at Waco Habitat for Humanity and my creative and insightful group members. I am new to the business of nonprofit organizations, but I believe my experience in working with for-profit companies has prepared me. I’m willing to take on a challenge. One month to do this, we’re ready!

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